Survival craft


Drawings on large sheets of paper look like pictures… They are very simple black and white images – self-portraits, windows, conventional signs in general use… For some reason, they compel you to stop, to peer, to become involved – to prove to be in the ephemeral present. Here, familiar and even obtrusive symbols encountered on a daily basis in the urban environment, on the packaging of goods, on a computer screen - are strangely absorbed into an artistic context that is protracted in time…  The direct emotiveness of a sketch not only extends to the scale of a large easel work but it also reflects the experience of the masters in drawing of the seventeenth to twentieth centuries, making this still relevant today…

Danja Akulin certainly proves how topical modernism is. The art disturbs the artist and his own role may be determined very classically (if not archaically) – by the mediator. After all, he is operating in a world governed by the laws of the mass media, in the sense that Jean Baudrillard referred to them: “The main characteristic of the mass media is that they pretend to be a kind of ‘anti-mediator’, that they are not transitive, that they produce non-communication.”

The author’s focus of attention reveals the graphic structure of objects, as if transposing them to the planning stage, to the sketching stage. This concentration of attention by the artist apparently presupposes meditation by the observers.

Behind extensive line movements of the pencil, behind concentrations and dilutions of light and shade – associations, sometimes free (but more often programmed by the author), are revealed layer by layer. For some reason, platitudes spring to mind: Cézanne has shown that all environments may be expressed by means of geometrical figures, the surrealists demonstrated a direct link – an overspill – between realist works and mental processes, pop art ‘brought’ mass culture to the field of art… Like metaphors, these obvious facts reveal a realm of psychological, social experiment. In any case, these accomplishments and experience take shape in the vector of Danja Akulin’s artistic concentration.

It is probably precisely the ‘declaration of form’ and apologia of a drawing as a media in its own right that naturally include Akulin’s works in the process of the history of art, and in the sphere of contemporary sociocultural introspection. Precisely for this reason, eternal subjects – ‘windows’, ‘self-portraits’ may be juxtaposed with and on an equal footing with a standard image with a tick denoting that a task is done, or a well-known logo.

A closer examination of the essence of Danja Akulin’s works suggests that the artist records the most important phenomena of the present – in a process of forming a new, chiefly visual language. It is intriguing that the ‘mass-media norm of this language’ and ‘Akulin’s version’ are at considerable variance. A dual code (text plus image) in advertising and in the comic strip compel you to consciously register a clear meaning of the symbol. And Akulin ‘redoubles’ a visual composition of the contemporary world – his ‘art project’ intends, albeit only to a certain extent, to liberate symbols from their binding meaning, to make them part of the history of drawing.

Akulin’s Survival Craft is an attempt to regulate an exchange of opinions and to propose ‘graphic modulation’ of the discussion of problems in the world in which this process is transgressed.

Georgy Nikich